The means of grace demand pastors, who will administer them with care and diligence. Both Word and Sacrament are not automatic mechanisms or processes, which happen just like that. No, not even the Holy Spirit let’s them occur as automatisms. Rather he distributes his grace to people through people. Just as he gave the command to preach the gospel and instituted the Sacraments so simultaneously he called men to administer them faithfully and promised his presence and support to the very end of days. He did not just give the word of reconciliation, but rather the ministry of reconciliation, an office and a properly called and ordained minister, who by far surpass those of the Old Testament with respect to honor, glory and blessing.
What would this office of the ministry and also the ordained pastor be without the means of grace? Yet one can also ask, what would the means of grace be without the office of the ministry and the ordained pastors? Both belong inseparably together by the wise and gracious institution of the Lord of the Church himself. The office of the ministry was instituted to preach the word and to administer the sacraments i.e. for the peaceful supervision and administration of the sacraments. At the borderline between visible and invisible Church you find the holy office with this precious treasure of the means of grace. They are a link between the order of salvation and the Church orders and regulation. Yes, it is even instituted by God himself as a order, practice and rite in the Church through which he gathers, preserves and leads his church to fulfillment.
Almighty, eternal God, heavenly Father! Again a week has passed away and time is fleeting. We ourselves are hastening along. Therefore we pray you, have mercy on us and our so unfinished and imperfect lives, o Lord! Forgive us all that o Father by which we have again raised your ire in word, thought and deed. Those things by which we have again disrupted, disturbed and disordered your divine order for our lives and homes, help us to address, clean up and order according to your holy and good will o Lord and God. Grant that all our days will be nothing else than a holy preparation and sanctification for that final rest towards which you are leadings us in peace and joy. Amen.
So the week has passed and is gone for good, yet your heart o God is open still to shed your blessings on us all. You comfort us so dearly thus filling us with confidence to praise you again this evening for all your love shown and for all good still to come. You lead me according to your gracious will until time and sorrow too are passed for good and gone. (Erdmann Neumeister 1671-1759)
This is a rather free translation of Wilhelm Löhe’s devotion for Saturday after the twelfth Sunday after the high holiday and festival of the Holy Trinity. It is found on Pg. 305 in Lob sei Dir ewig, o Jesu! (Eternal Praise to you o Jesus!) edited by A. Schuster and published in the Freimund Verlag, Neuendettelsau 1949.